Category Archives: Fixer Upper

Something Died in the Walls…

In my case, it was a mouse. I discovered the dead mouse lying there, within the wall structure, waiting to be taken to the rodent cemetary for a decent burial. He had been there long enough so I deduced that haste was no longer important to him. It was for me, because I didn’t want him lying around any longer, so I simply turned on the Wet/Dry Vac and whisked him away.

Something Died in the Walls


Choosing a Color Palette for the Hallway

A Pleasing Color Palette for the Vestibule

I finally settled on a color palette for the hallway—I can celebrate! This means, in short, that the hallway will be liberated from the garish mustard and ketchup color scheme that existed there for too many years. I opted for bright, airy colors that will open up the space and emphasize the height of the ceilings. This will give the illusion of a larger and fresher vestibule and hallway, in stark contrast to the harsh and heavy colors that exist now.

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How We Moved the Vestibule Lighting

How We Moved the Vestibule Lighting

Moving the sconce from its dubious position in the vestibule was simpler than I imagined it would be: the electrician completed the removal, rewiring, and installation in half an hour or less. There was a few pieces of drywall scraps and powder, so I used the Wet/Dry Vac to tidy up and began mudding and taping when he left.

Here’s a photo story with rudimentary commentary.

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Planning the Vestibule Renovation

The best way to conquer the hallway renovation project is to attack it in stages. There are several areas that must be addressed, including the vestibule, the hallway, the stairs, the floors, the lighting, and the color palette. Each of these can be considered a stage where I focus on that item alone, taking a modular approach where I finish one aspect before moving on to the next logical aspect.

I’ve decided to tackle the vestibule renovation first because it will give me immediate satisfaction and motivate me to tackle the rest of the renovation project. Frankly, the vestibule appears to be the easiest part of this project and it would be ideal if I finished it before winter arrives (working in the winter would make mudding, taping, and painting especially difficult).

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The World’s Ugliest Color Palette

It finally dawned upon me that I have the world’s ugliest color palette in my hallway. The colors are a classic combination, yes, however they are hardly acceptable for a brownstone hallway. For a car? No. An outfit? Not even. For food? Yes, the color palette is perfect for food. My hallway is the classic color combination known throughout New York City and fast food chains everywhere across this big, green planet: mustard and ketchup.

Who, with any portion of their vision and any sense of, well, anything, would sit down with color swatches and determine mustard and ketchup to be aesthetically pleasing? Furthermore, why did I endure this? I’m a minimalist who prefers muted color palettes and fine lines. These colors aggravate my senses.

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White is…White…Right?

It’s time for painting again—the tenant on the top floor moved out and my plan is to get the apartment back on the market quickly. New York real estate is a hot commodity and it’s best to strike while the iron is hot. I did a complete reno on this apartment two years ago so it’s still in excellent condition. There’s no major renovation necessary; only patching nail holes (the tenant didn’t use drywall anchors), cleaning fingerprints and grease marks off the paint, and scrubbing the appliances to their original stainless steel glory (doesn’t anyone clean up after themselves anymore?).

Laying it On Thick
I’m repainting the apartment with the same paint I used before: white. Antique white, to be exact. There were a few gallons of this paint stored in the basement for future use so I brought it upstairs and prepared my tools. I decided to “patch” the primed areas last night with the Antique White instead of painting the entire wall—quick and easy work. Joy turned to despair once the paint skinned over: it didn’t match the paint on the wall. What happened? Did the paint “season” over those two years in the basement and mature into a different value? Or did the painted walls discolor in the sunlight and under the fluorescent lights? Or both? Or something else?

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I Won’t Expose the Brick in the Vestibule After All

I really wanted to add value (and street cred) to our brownstone by tearing out the plaster and exposing the brick in the vestibule. Admittedly, there was some degree of ego encouraging me to do the renovation. The upscale brownstones in Brooklyn Heights all have exposed brick. Why can’t I have something that looks great, too? Why keep it “Plain Jane”? Go for the gusto!

Alas, it won’t work as I want it to. There are two obstacles that I discovered that prevent exposed brick from being a reality: the first obstacle is the front door configuration and the second obstacle is the junction box with electric cabling below the plaster. Neither of these have an easy fix in this stage of reno.

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